The Cook Islands qualified for their first Oceania Nations Cup after finishing second in the 1998 Polynesia Cup, which they hosted. They faced Australia and Fiji in Group B, in what proved to be a tough draw. Australia crushed the Cook Islands 16–0 in their first match, scoring eight goals either side of the interval. In their next match against Fiji, however, the Cook Islands acquitted themselves much better, losing only 3–0, but with two defeats from two matches they failed to make the semi-finals.
In finishing 2nd at the Polynesia Cup for the second tournament running, the Cook Islands also qualified for their second successive OFC Nations Cup. They were drawn in Group A along with the Solomon Islands, and again, Australia. After their heavy defeat at the hands of Australia in the 1998 tournament, the Cook Islands hoped to avoid a repeat performance. However, they were powerless to prevent their opponents from running rampant, this time to the tune of 17–0. The Solomon Islands were up next, and in this game the Cook Islands had the consolation of scoring their first goal at the Oceania Nations Cup–the only bright spot in an otherwise bleak 5–1 defeat. After two defeats, then, the Cooks Islands again went out at the group stage.